Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Challenging perceptions of food production

Monday, September 16th, 2013

This September Byspokes commenced a new project in collaboration with IPCRI and funded by the Osprey Foundation to bring novel food producing technologies to where they are needed most. We are Working with Bustan in Qasr a-Sir in the Negev, and one site in the West Bank. At each site we shall build three demonstration systems – aquaponic, hydroponic and wicking beds – in order to provide working examples of these technologies within each community, and thus raise awareness of the existence of these methods of food production in areas where this information is otherwise unavailable.

We will be working closely with a couple of interns from each community to ensure that the technical know-how to build and maintain agricultural systems such as these remains within the community for the long term, and does not disappear as soon as the project is over!

Trichoderma research

Friday, July 5th, 2013

According to some estimates, by 2050 the total global population will reach 9 billion, therefore it is predicted that in order to meet this demand, global food production needs to increase at least a 50%. However, to increase this demand presents a challenge to current agricultural methods given that they are heavily dependent on finite resources such as water, land and fossil fuels. The rising price of fuel is making chemical pesticides and fertilizers less affordable to farmers particularly those in developing countries; there is also a rising consensus of the harmful effects that the use of chemicals in intensive agriculture presents not just to the environment but also to human health, thus also increasing the demand for pesticide residue-free crops. These challenges are driving markets and legislation to support more organic, pesticide-free agriculture. Therefore it is of paramount importance that novel and more sustainable agricultural techniques are researched, in particular those, which can help reduce the need for chemicals but at the same time can help us achieve high crop productivity.

With the pressing issues and future challenges that global agricultural systems face, fungi such as Trichodrma spp. offer an enormous potential. They naturally occur in soils and have proven to exert pathogen biocontrol, enhance nutrient uptake and increase nitrogen use efficiency in plants. Some strains have even been found to ameliorate a range of abiotic stresses such as salinity and drought. All these make Trichoderma spp. a unique and a strong candidate to utilize as a BCA.

This project aims to widen the understanding of Trichoderma hamatum strain GD12. However due to time and resource constraints the research will only focus on the plant growth promoting mechanisms (PGP) rather than on biocontrol. T. hamatum GD12 has never been tested in water-based agricultural systems, therefore this research will focus on investigating the potential that this strain has in hydroponic and aquaponic systems.

The research will be multidisciplinary, addressing issues such as water stewardship and food security in developing countries. A major objective of the work is to assess the applicability and relevance of this strain of Trichoderma in developing countries. Therefore, in addition to laboratory research conducted at the University of Exeter, simple field trials with Trichoderma GD12 will be conducted in Thailand, in collaboration with Greenpeace International.

By combining laboratory and field experimentation, the results of the research will have the depth to be directly relevant at the farm scale and thus applicable where it is needed most. If, as hypothesised, the PGP traits observed in the laboratory are replicable under field conditions, then this fungus has the potential to greatly enhance the productivity of urban agricultural systems and thus may become a valuable tool for enhancing food security – particularly in developing countries.

Projects completed

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Over the last 6 months, Byspokes have been providing consultancy to Ma’an Development Centre to develop a couple of exciting aquaponic and agricultural projects in the northern West Bank. We are are happy to announce that the projects seem to be running smoothly now, and aside from a few follow-up visits scheduled for the coming months, our regular involvement in these projects is no longer necessary. Please see the projects archive for more details.

New look website!

Friday, July 5th, 2013


Finally, after months in the making, the new-look website is up and running! Hopefully readers will find the new site to be more streamlined and user friendly. Please feel free to make suggestions as to how to improve it further!

Upcoming aquaponic courses!

Monday, October 22nd, 2012


Byspokes is proud to announce two upcoming aquaponic courses, to be held in Bait Ali lodge in Wadi Rum, Jordan. These courses will use the system we installed in the lodge over the summer as the focal point for the training.

Course dates are:
16-18 November 2012
21-23 December 2012

The December course will be preceded by an agroforestry workshop focussing on multiple-use tree species appropriate for arid zones, delivered by Alice Gray, an ecologist and permaculture expert that has been working in this field in the West Bank for the past six years.

Download the course outline here. For more information, or to reserve a place, please email us.

Urban aquaponics!!

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012


We are very excited to finally manage to do a system in an urban area. The system is located in Wadi Shaheen, Bethlehem. For the past couple of days we have been building the system with the family. Soon we will be doing an intensive weekend course so that they can manage the system by themselves and start planting!

Thanks again for your donations and support!

Aquaponics in the Jordan Valley

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012


We started constructing 6 aquaponic systems in the Jordan Valley project with OXFAM Italia on the 3rd of February 2012. We are now very close to the end of the project; it makes us sad to leave the lovely bedouin community of Aqbat Jaber but we are very happy with our achievements, and we are sure they are as well. For more details check the project section of our website!

Website progress

Monday, September 26th, 2011


Finally! After much fighting with computers, we have finally transferred our website to a new host – iPage – who use only wind power for their electricity needs (see our shiny badge on the right!). Please bear with us as we work to update everything, and sling in photos where we can….